In "The Emperor's New Clothes," the emperor is gulled by a conman who convinces him to purchase "invisible clothes." Determined that he is right — and determined not to admit his mistake — the emperor parades around in his finely woven suit of clothes, totally naked and without comment from the crowd until a young boy cries out, "He's not wearing any clothes."
Biden's troops have been out claiming that the recession we're in, defined as two consecutive quarters or GDP decline, is not really a recession. The definition of a recession, they say, is more complex, and so, "technically," we're not in one. It doesn't take a truthful young boy to point out that this is ridiculous. On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported a decline of 0.9% in the second quarter following a decline of 1.6% in the first quarter. That's two consecutive quarters of GDP decline, so we're in a recession.
Why does Biden choose to parade around naked in spite of the economic data? Not just because he doesn't want to take responsibility for his mistakes, which caused the recession, but because he wants to continue with them. Admitting the truth would mean he has to examine his policies and begin correcting them. But Biden has never reversed a single one of his failed economic policy decisions.
Even Senate Democrats have begun to doubt the president. Led by Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, they are on the verge of passing a near-trillion-dollar package that would require some new oil and gas lease sales on federal lands over the next decade. Increased drilling would help lift America out of the current recession by gradually helping to lower energy costs and the costs of all goods and services dependent on oil and gas. Drilling will also provide high-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry and in businesses that support it.
If the "Inflation Reduction" bill passes, will Biden sign it? Biden has repeatedly pledged to end oil and gas drilling. Now he has the opportunity to continue doing so by vetoing the bill, but at great political cost to himself and to his party.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 presents Biden with a major conundrum. As late as last week in his televised response to the second-quarter GDP numbers, Biden stated that the economy is growing rapidly and that inflation is "temporary." If things are that good, why spend another $430 billion to reduce inflation? Maybe because Biden knows that inflation is not temporary or part of a "transition," as he sometimes puts it.
But then, why spend months insisting that the U.S. economy is growing and that inflation is just temporary when every American knows that they are not?
Because Biden seems to have spent his entire political career believing in what Hitler called the Big Lie. If you repeat a lie often enough, and loudly enough, others will be led to believe it, or at least be cowed into not opposing it.
Biden has instructed his supporters in politics and the media to join him in the Big Lie. Liberal groups like americanprogress.org continue to insist that "real GDP is just one of many economic indicators used to assess the state of the U.S. economy."
So how much worse does it have to be? According to Bloomberg news, the present recession will be "long, moderate and painful." According to Forbes, recessions like this one can lead to "job losses" and "financial difficulties" for ordinary Americans. And the average post-WWII recession lasts 11 months. If this one is longer, as Bloomberg predicts, it will last into 2023 and cause a great deal of pain.
But still Biden pretends everything is just fine. When was the last time he visited a grocery store? Probably back in 1970, when he was first elected to political office, where he has remained ever since. Gas and grocery prices have doubled, in some cases, over the last 12 months, with the Consumer Price Index now at a 40-year high.
Real wages are not keeping up, so how do workers, especially hourly workers, survive these increases? And how do those who are losing their jobs in this recession survive?
Again, Biden seems blind to the naked truth, which is that he has caused the recession and higher prices.
Those who do not admit their mistakes will never correct them. That is one reason Bloomberg is probably correct in saying the current recession will be longer than usual.
Since nearly every forecaster missed in the second quarter — with higher estimates than actually came in — it's impossible to rely on their GDP estimates for the third quarter and beyond. The Philadelphia Fed's Survey of Economic Forecasters, for example, predicted in May that real GDP growth would be 2.3% in the second quarter of 2022 and 2.5% in the third quarter. The "professional" forecasters seem to know less than the average American, who is angry at the total blindness of the Biden administration.
Biden is walking around naked, apparently without any idea that the U.S. has entered a recession and without a plan to end it. That plan should be, quite simply, to stop spending more money — such as the $280-billion CHIPS bill and the Inflation Reduction Act — and to actually begin cutting government spending overall.
America does not need a doddering old fool as president, especially one who can't see what is obvious to every working or retired American. The U.S. has entered a recession at precisely the point of highest inflation. Many of those who lose their jobs in this recession will be living on the streets before it's over, and Biden will still be going on national TV, naked to the truth, proclaiming that things have never been better. Better for him, and for the ever-resourceful Hunter, maybe. But not for ordinary working Americans.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).